Back from the Past, Blast to the Future

Did my spicy title draw you in? Well, now for the dry stuff.

I finished my research on previous Presidential policies regarding Israel and Palestine, and have now begun applying this to current events. My goal is to analyze how Trump’s policies compare/ contrast to historical US precedence, and the effect this will have on the future of a one or two state solution.

I have chosen four major Trump policies to focus my research comparison. I chose these four issues because they are large enough to possibly effect  future prospects of peace:

  1. Ambassador Friedman’s declaration that settlements as part of Israel (September 2017)
  2. American Embassy move to Jerusalem (December 6th 2018)
  3. Halt on UNRWA aid budget (June 24th 2018 )
  4. Humanitarian economic plan to Gaza (future, hopefully before I finish!!)

I am now three weeks into my research, wahoo! My goal is to research for the first 5 weeks, and physically write the final paper for the last two weeks.  In order to survive the deep trenches of endless research I have dug for myself, I am using a three prong approach. By working on these three items simultaneously for the last two weeks, it has allowed me to keep up motivation and continue my research.

  1. Finding Legitimate News Sources
    • This step took me slightly longer than anticipated. I was determined to find reliable local news sources in both Israel and Palestine that would truly express popular opinion. Once I found the top 5 most read and circulated Israeli and Palestinian newspapers, I then found two regional papers, and four US papers. I have begun collecting articles from all of these sources regarding the four major Trump events I listed previously.
  2. Categorizing Presidents
    • I have created a long list for each President consisting of the Peace Plans, major wars, UN Resolutions, and other important events that occurred during their tenure. I am then going to use these to decide which Presidents were “Pro-Palestine” “Pro-Israel” or “It’s Complicated”.
  3. Comparing Strategies to Trump
    • When I complete the past President categories, I  will compare their events with those I  selected from Trump. Are they truly as drastic of a policy shift as many argue? If so, what precedent can be seen from other Pro-Israel Presidents, and the lasting effect they had on the possibility of a one or two state solution?

I hope that my next check in will have all three of these tasks completed, and I will be ready to write! Gotta blast!


  1. achiggins says:

    This is tremendous work! I think your choice to focus on the four major policy positions was spot-on. It leaves you with enough room to home in on the prospects of the two-state solution, without getting lost in the larger American approach to the issue.

    So far, have you accounted for the political biases of the Israeli newspapers (for instance, if they tend to support a specific party, such as Likud or Labor)? And, if so, are certain party establishments more acclimated to a potential two-state solution than others? Or, is it too soon in the research process for you to say?

  2. micrittenden says:

    Hey Emma,

    I’m really impressed by your reading endurance – I get burned out so quickly reading article after article, so I might have to devise my own three prong approach!

    I went back and read your previous posts and noticed that, initially, you stated that you’d consult legitimate news sources from the Middle East, US, and Europe. But in this most recent post, you didn’t mention any European news sources. Is incorporating the European perspective still part of your research methodology or have you found other ways of minimizing source bias? Also, do you have any newspaper recommendations for basic coverage on the topic for someone who is only vaguely familiar with the history of the conflict?

    I’m looking forward to reading more about your comparison between the Trump Administration and past administrations’ foreign policy in regard to Israel.

    Best of luck with finishing your research!

  3. Emma Russell says:

    Hello Matt!
    Yes, initially I had intended to read mostly European news sources in order to present a relatively less bias viewpoint. I have had extreme difficulty in finding a source that I feel accurately represents the issue and therefore have decided to break it down further. I truly want to keep my research focused on a bilateral relationship strictly between the US and Israel- the European sources were making the research messy. The sources I will use are:

    Palestinian Newspapers:
    Al Quds (Jerusalem)
    Al Hayat Al Jadida (The New Life)
    Al Ayyam (The Days)

    Israeli Newspapers
    The Times of Israel
    Yedioth Ahronoth (Ynetnews)
    The Jerusalem Post (JPost)
    Israel Hayom

    Regional Papers:
    Al Jazeera (The Island)
    Al Monitor

    US Sources:
    New York Times
    Washington Post

    Now this list has another tricky element, the Palestinian papers are in Arabic, the Israeli papers are mostly Hebrew, and the US papers are English. I have found that for the most part, the Israeli viewpoint is properly presented in American newspapers in English (lucky for me; because I don’t know Hebrew) The Palestinian view is what I am more concerned about getting accurate because it receives less advocacy in English sources. I need to accurately understand the shifting popular perceptions of peace in response to Trump’s actions. In order to do that, I will be working on translating many articles from Arabic to English.

    As a reader who may want to know more about this issue, I would highly recommend reading Al Monitor, Al-Jazeera, and BBC. Haaretz is also in English and provides good Israeli coverage. Those would be my four main English recommendations, but take them all with a grain of salt. You can never read one side without the other. Somewhere in between lies the truth.

    Thanks for the comment! Good luck with your reading!

  4. Emma Russell says:


    Here is the comprehensive list of sources I am using, and a short explanation next to each.

    Palestinian Newspapers:
    Al Quds (Jerusalem): Family-owned independent daily with a circulation of 20,000 newspapers, 48,000 daily website page views, and 5 million followers on Facebook. Generally adopts pro-peace process editorial line. Editor in Chief is Walid Abu Al Zalaf.
    Al Hayat Al Jadida (The New Life): Palestinian Authority-owned official daily with a circulation of 5,000 newspapers, 4,000 daily website page views, and 30,000 followers on Facebook. Adopts extreme pro-Fatah and anti-Hamas editorial line. Editor in Chief is Mahmoud Abu El Haija.
    Al Ayyam (The Days): Independently owned Pro-Palestinian Authority daily with a circulation of 10,000 newspapers, 9,000 daily website page views, and 5,000 followers on Facebook. Relies heavily on press agencies for international and regional news. Editor is Akram Haniyyah, political advisor to Mahmoud Abbas.

    Israeli Newspapers:
    Haaretz: an Israeli newspaper. It was founded in 1918, making it the longest running newspaper currently still in print in Israel, and is now published in both Hebrew and English
    The Times of Israel: an Israeli-based online newspaper launched in 2012
    Yedioth Ahronoth (Ynetnews): the online English-language Israeli news website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most-read newspaper, and the Hebrew news portal, Ynet
    The Jerusalem Post (JPost): is a broadsheet newspaper based in Jerusalem, founded in 1932 during the British Mandate of Palestine by Gershon Agron as The Palestine Post.
    Ma’ariv: a national Hebrew-language daily newspaper published in Israel
    Israel Hayom: is an Israeli national Hebrew-language free daily newspaper, first published in 2007.

    Regional Newspapers:
    Al Jazeera (The Island): state-funded broadcaster in Doha, Qatar, owned by the Al Jazeera Media Network. Initially launched as an Arabic news and current-affairs satellite TV channel, Al Jazeera has since expanded into a network with several outlets, including the Internet and specialty television channels in multiple languages.
    Al Monitor: Al-Monitor is a media site launched in February 2012 by the Arab American entrepreneur Jamal Daniel and based in Washington, DC. Al-Monitor provides reporting and analysis from and about the Middle East through both original and translated content.

    US Sources:
    New York Times
    Washington Post

    I am using a wide range of sources in order to try to accommodate for the inherent bias of conservative/liberal/Likud/Labor/etc. biases within the US, Israel, and Palestine. I am using the mostly popularly circulated and bought newspapers from each area because those will most accurately reflect
    popular opinion. I am staying away from smaller more radical newspapers across the board.

    In regard to the potential for a two-state solution, it is too early to say. I am not even sure what the end answer to my research will be… but sometimes those are the most exciting adventures. According to a recent opinion poll 61% of Israeli Jews support the principle of a two state solution. Peace talks continue to use the two-state solution as a basis regardless of party affiliation, but there are many dynamics within the argument such as limits on sovereignty and Israeli oversight of security that are divisions.

    Buttt….there appears to be a current scholarly shift in considering the dynamics of a two-state solution. On June 28, I attended “Complex Palestinian Narratives and Competing Political Visions” at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. There was a panel of three Palestinian scholars who expressed deep doubt in BOTH the one state and two state solution.

    Additionally, for fun, I was looking into public opinion polls after major announcements, such as the Embassy move, and again there are extremely high levels of Palestinian doubt in the practicality and possibility of a two state solution and peace agreement. The most striking data I found was: Optimism about reaching a peace agreement with Israel in 10 years, and in 100 years, is the same: a dismal 9%. (Palestinian public opinion polls have some legitimacy problems due to the physical complications of conducting an accurate survey in both the West Bank and Gaza which has made me hesitant to use them in my own research, but for personal knowledge alone this is a shocking statistic)

    Where this all leads me? I am not sure yet. But I am excited to see.
    I truly believe that there are fundamental shifts occurring that can alter the future of a peace deal, and the form that it takes as a one or two state solution.

    Thanks for the comment!